Before the Tories came into power, homelessness in the UK had been steadily decreasing. Since then it has shot up — 37% in the past 2 years*. The government are doing their best to increase it further — removing housing benefit from the under-25s, for example, just plain evil.
There’s more. Previously, the homeless were entitled to council homes. They might be offered private accommodation, but had the right to turn it down. Now, under last year’s localism act, councils can put them into any rented accommodation.
Given how shoddy some private accommodation is, we can expect a lot of the homeless to be dumped in grim, unsafe housing where nobody would freely choose to live.
A consultation is now in progress, over what requirements there will be for private-sector accommodation. It’s pretty weak:
we would expect that a local authority officer, or a person acting on
behalf of the authority such as a letting agent, would visit the property. In
doing so they should take account of the property’s general condition and
state of repair, such as signs of damp, mould, loose or cracked windows.
No need for a detailed inspection by somebody qualified. No set standards for quality — “there are difficulties with making legislation
that would prevent local authorities from using properties with Category 1 (or
any other) hazards“.
All in all, it’s horrible stuff. We have until 26 July to respond to the consultation. I don’t have much hope, but this is one of the last chances to have any impact at all.